January 5, 2012
The common adage is, if you want to play jazz, get up on the bandstand with the experienced cats — and the Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble of San Francisco is true to the word. Their annual alumni reunion concert on Jan. 7 takes the concept of mentorship seriously. Not only will the current members learn from jamming with their talented alumni counterparts, but also the concert benefits other kids in education programs at La Peña Cultural Center in Berkeley.
LJYE celebrated its 10th year anniversary this past September with a special concert at Yoshi’s in Oakland. Founded by celebrated educator and multi-instrumentalist John Calloway, the aim of the ensemble is to “preserve the traditions of Latin jazz and Afro-Cuban music by teaching it to youth and to create role models for aspiring student musicians.” Since its inception, over 150 young musicians have gained from the tuition-free program, some going on to attend the country’s leading music schools and become professional musicians. The group’s invaluable experiences regularly include recording CDs, performing with jazz masters and in prestigious venues such as the San Jose Jazz Festival, the KCSM Jazz Festival, Yerba Buena Gardens, and S.F. Museum of Modern Art.
Does your boy just love to sing, regularly gracing you with his talent around the house? If he’s between the ages of 7 and 10, he may be ready for some formalized training with the San Mateo-based Ragazzi Boys Chorus. And Ragazzi has come up with an innovative approach to the audition process that is sure to put everyone at ease. On Saturday, Jan. 21 from 9:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. it hosts SingFest!, a free half-day of musical games and fun for boys who love to sing. No musical experience is expected and the kids are not required to audition for the program, but are given the opportunity throughout the day. The boys will get comfortable with their voices in small group and individual singing, eventually giving a short performance for parents at the end.
Says Artistic Director Joyce Keil: “It has been my experience that young people respond passionately to powerful music. For boys who join Ragazzi, musicianship and choral training provide life lessons in leadership, teamwork, excellence, and perseverance, and a deep appreciation of the power and beauty of music beyond our cultural differences.”
SingFest! is free, but you must preregister.
The Walden School is back in the limelight again, this time garnering the prestigious 2011 CMA/ASCAP Adventurous Programming Award for their performances of music composed in the past 25 years. It joins other such local organizations as Other Minds, Rova Saxophone Quartet, and Kronos Quartet in receiving this notable award. “The Walden School is tremendously honored by this recognition from Chamber Music America and ASCAP,” said Walden’s Executive Director Seth Brenzel. “The presentation of innovative, cutting edge, and diverse artists on Walden’s Concert Series is an important component of our educational mission, and our participants and audiences alike reap the benefits.” Brenzel will accept the award on behalf of Wladen in a ceremony in New York City on Jan. 15, 2012.
As reported by SFCV, when Walden School won the American Music Center’s 2011 New Music Educator Award for its creative philosophy and curriculum, Walden School has administrative offices in the Bay Area, and conducts summer activities on the campus of the Dublin School in Dublin, New Hampshire. Their core programs include the Young Musicians Program for musicians ages 9 to 18, the Teacher Training Institute for music educators, and the Creative Musicians Retreat for adult musicians. Students explore music in creative ways, from an approach through improvisation and composition. Applications for their summer program are being accepted now. Visit waldenschool.org to learn more.